Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

Is fluff killing your business?

content marketing, copy writing, marketing

Fluff is your enemy! The kind of fluff I am referring to here is the overly long copywriting, which takes your powerful marketing message and dilutes it into something weak and uninspiring.

To be or not to be?

When I started studying copywriting, back in the 1980’s, one of the first lessons I learned was the importance of brevity.

Think about it: Shakespeare spent decades, writing some of the best known works in history. Yet, his most famous quote contains just 6 words. None of the words have more than 3 letters:

“To be or not to be.”

Short. Powerful. Easy to remember. Perfect!

As a copywriter, I know that the sooner I can make a point, the more likely it is that people will read it. People have never been busier. They value brevity. They lack the time or patience to wade through acres of vague, pedestrian copy.

If I can get the value of a 1000 word blog post or article into just 300 words, I know I have achieved something. I will have taken 1000 words worth of value and concentrated them into a more powerful, compelling 300 word message.

How can fluff kill your business?

Most small business marketing has horribly poor conversion rates. It’s too wordy. It often rambles and usually tries to achieve too many different things at once.

In order for you to generate inquiries or sales, your marketing copy must motivate people to take some kind of action; buy from you, call you, click a link, email you, subscribe to your newsletter, etc.

If you want to see an immediate, measurable improvement in your marketing response rates, de-fluff your copy. Make each piece of content direct the reader to do one thing. Don’t deviate.

The power of clear, focused marketing

I know, with 98% certainty, that you are a business owner or entrepreneur. No, I can’t see you from here, but that’s who Jim’s Marketing Blog is aimed at. As a result, I have a highly targeted readership.

In short: Embrace brevity. Focus each message on just one desired outcome. Know your target audience and write exclusively for them.

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  1. Hi Jim, I work a lot with small business owners and the importance of good copywriting is one of the main things I’m always stressing.

    I see too many websites that focus on the company rather than the potential customer and as you rightly say they tend to ramble on.

    I’ve seen dozens of homepages that read more like a detailed history of the company rather than getting the benefits across to the target audience.

    Your post made me think of a TV show I saw the other night about customer service in furniture shops. There was one company that had a range of different discounts depending on what you bought and how many items you chose. The end result was that it was very confusing for the customer and put them off.

    • Thanks for the feedback Jamie.
      Completely agree with your observation;
      “too many websites that focus on the company rather than the potential customer”

      I see that so much. I sense a future post topic!

  2. Very nice! I’ve gone on for years about not fluffing up posts and pages…it was actually the basis of my Headway Hub revamp a few months ago. You should always strive to get your point across clearly and easily.

    • Hi Corey.

      What’s added to the deluge of fluff, is seo gurus telling people that they MUST pack the pages with words. Equally, people use the old pinch-page format, with acres of sprawling copy, (and yellow highlighter, of course).

  3. This post has got me thinking about how I want to run my future business and maybe how it should be named.

    Thanks for sharing as always Jim!

  4. I hate fluff. It gets everywhere, clogs up the works, attracts more fluff and makes the place look dirty.

    …just remove the fluff.

  5. Hi there. Fluff is indeed frustrating in posts and copy. No-one has much time (certainly not business owners) and getting their attention and drawing them to the key messages as quickly as possible is key.

    Takes practice though I think. Especially on blog posts. Finish it, read it, read it again, strip out the excess, read it again… It can take time, but does come with practice!

    Starting to fluff – “over and out” :)

    • Hi Barney. You’re right, it is a great deal easier to get a point across in 500 words, than to get that same point across in just 50 words. Part of the skillset of all great marketing copywriters, is brevity.

      I think Twitter is helping a lot of small business owners with this. It forces people to really focus on getting a message across in a limited number of words / characters.

  6. Yes, Jim Connlolly the ‘FLUFF’ I know I have a bit around me hopefully I learn enough to get raid of it..

    Thank You for the pointers too loved this article…

  7. I edited down a guest post last night from 900 words to under 600 so this post is quite timely for me. It is amazing how much “fluff” we can remove and still say what needs to be said.

    I prefer short and to the point, besides we want to leave room for things to “discover” via comments and conversation right? :)

  8. To paraphrase a song I seem to remember

    Nice one Jimmy
    Nice one son
    Nice one Jimmy
    Let’s have another one

  9. Cutting through the clutter….yes indeed! Nothing drives me more than being asked to write a commercial message with a client’s expectation of a laundry list of details about what they do and not a clear concise message of what they will do for their customers. Too many small businesses are in business in spite of themselves!

  10. I agree, but now I’m hungry! We have a lot of internal debates over length and copy. For the guest bloggers, we limit them to 500 words and, for some, this causes great pain (hence the internal debate). Next time, I’ll just send them this blog post so it’s not me saying it.

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